Simon Keith and his family were extremely grateful on Sunday as they received the call that a heart and kidney were suddenly available.
Keith underwent what is reported by his family and friends as a successful second heart transplant on Sunday followed by a succesful four-hour surgery for the kidney transplant on Monday.
The former Saanich resident and soccer player who is famous for being the first to earn a living as a pro athlete with a heart transplant. The 53-year-old received his initial heart transplant at the age of 21.
However, Keith’s health deteriorated in 2018 as his heart and kidney both began to fail. He’d been waiting for a transplant since and had the surgery where he’s been living in San Diego.
“We are so very grateful and blessed at this opportunity to share many more years together as a family,” said his wife, Kelly Keith, in a statement. “While it is incredibly bittersweet as one family lost a treasured loved one, we are and always will be humbled by the generosity of strangers. Please know, we will always pay it forward and ensure that organ donation becomes the norm and saves as many lives as possible.”
Keith was born in England but grew up in Saanich playing for Lansdowne Minor Soccer and the Mount Douglas Rams soccer team and then UVic Vikes (Vikings) before undergoing a heart transplant in 1986. He then transferred to the UNLV Running Rebels in the NCAA and graduated to the pro circuit, making history. He is among the longest living people to undergo a heart transplant, having lived 32 years with a second heart, after 21 years on his own.
Keith is known for his organ transplant advocacy through the Simon Keith Foundation and as a motivational speaker.
“Simon had a good night, and today we wait to hear when his kidney transplant will take place,” said family friend Ian Klitsie on Monday morning.
Those who are familiar and in contact with the Keith family are asked to respect their privacy at this time, Klitsie said.